Assembly elections 2022 COVID-19 protocols: From a ban on physical campaign rallies until January 15, no permission for victory processions, increased polling time, a booster dose of polling officials and more, here is a look at guidelines that the Election Commission announced for the conduction of assembly polls amid the third COVID-19 wave.
The Election Commission of India announced the assembly elections schedule for five states on Saturday and also laid out COVID-19 guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus due to the polling exercise.
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The poll body has prohibited political parties from conducting any physical election campaign rallies in any of the poll-bound states—Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.
The ban also includes padyatras, roadshows, cycle or vehicle rallies, or processions until January 22, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said. No nukkad sabhas or victory processions will be allowed either.
The ECI will review the ban on physical election campaigns after January 15, he said. The Commission will not hesitate to bar parties from further rallies if COVID protocol is not followed, Chandra added.
The top poll body has urged political parties to make greater use of virtual campaigns and distribute masks and sanitisers to workers. A maximum of five persons, including the candidate, will be allowed to undertake a door-to-door campaign, the ECI said.
The Commission has also banned victory celebrations and said that only two persons will be allowed to accompany the candidate to collect the winning certificate.
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EC has directed that all central/state government officials deployed for election duty shall be doubly vaccinated. All eligible officials shall be given a precautionary booster dose accordingly, the CEC said.
The EC has also increased the polling time by an hour and has also increased the number of polling booths to ensure there is no overcrowding.
All polling stations will have COVID mitigation measures like sanitisers, thermal scanner, soap etc., in place. The booths shall be located on the ground to floors, the ECI said.
Senior citizens above 80 years of age, persons with disabilities, and COVID-19 patients can cast their vote by ballot post. If the temperature of any voter is above the set norms of the Union Health Ministry, the elector will be given a token and asked to come for voting in the last hour of polling.
EC guidelines come against the backdrop of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still unfolding. Healthcare experts cautioned that any violations of rules at this critical time can have severe repercussions.
Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa will be held between February 10 and March 7 in seven phases. The counting of votes will be held on March 10.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar and Thomas Abraham)
First Published: IST